Easy chilli paneer frankie

The weather has been playing havoc in Los Angeles. After weeks of sunshine and really good weather, this morning I woke up to some gloomy, moody weather. You know the days when you want to curl up in bed, watch a couple of episodes of your favorite TV show, and drink some hot coffee. Such days for me are the days I miss my comfort food. These are generally comprised of Indian street food, ranging from samosas, chaat, vada pav, to my all time favorite dosas and coconut chutney. Today I decided to experiment making some chilli paneer frankies. I've always wondered about the origin of the word "frankie" for this famous Indian street food. Popularly known as 'Kati roll'  in Kolkata, this form of paratha or roti wrapped in different kinds of meat or vegetables with spices originated in 1932 at Nizam hotel (Hogg Street, New Market, Kolkata), a popular eating joint for the British babus. The original Kati roll was made with kati kebab rolled up in a paratha. This kind of roll had its origin in Mughlai traditions, heavily influenced by Central Asian cuisine, particularly Afghani cuisine which had a tradition of making meat wraps with Afghani bread or Naan-e-Afghani. The roots of the Mughals in Kolkata (then called Bengal) can be traced back to 12th century when Bakhtiyar Khilji a military general in King Qutub-ud-din Aybak's regime conquered Bengal and other parts of Eastern India, thus spreading Islamic rule to these parts of the country. The Kati roll must have began as an Indian version of a wrap commonly found in Central Asian cuisine (modern day döner kebab). 

Now you must be wondering what is the connection between a 'Kati roll' and a 'Frankie'. Well, they are essentially the same except, according to me, the paratha in the Kati roll is first partly fried in oil on a tawa and then cooked with an egg. This egg is broken onto the tawa, and the semi-cooked paratha is cooked on it. Hence one side of the paratha gets coated with the egg. In a frankie, the egg is mostly avoided. However, there is also another story for the origin of the frankie. This version appeared first in 1967 in Mumbai (then Bombay), in the Western part of India, when Amarjit Tibbs an Indian businessman returned back to India after being sent to London on some work. He stopped over at Beirut, Lebanon where he encountered the Wimpy's burger. According to Mr. Tibbs, a frankie is a mix between the German Frankfurter, a British Wimpy's beef burger and a Beirut boti kebab. The name 'frankie' is supposed to be based on his favorite cricketer Frank Worrell who passed away in 1967. It could also have been a short form of the German Frankfurter.

Today, the Kati roll or Frankie has become a popular food item with many variations and innovative fillings. My favorite version of this is made with paneer. You can try different fillings too, scrambled eggs, spicy potatoes, cauliflower etc. The idea is to innovate and come up with something sumptuous.

Easy chilli paneer frankie Serves 2

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Ingredients

Roti/Paratha-- 4 (I used roti bought from the Indian store. It's called 'desi roti' and comes in packets of 12 available for $2.99) Paneer- 1, chopped Onion - 1 medium, chopped Tomato- 1 medium, chopped Bell pepper- 1 medium, chopped Thai green chillies- 4, chopped Cilantro- a bunch, chopped Oil- 2 tbsp Chilli sauce- 2 tbsp Jalapeño sauce- 2 tbsp Soya sauce- 2 tbsp Ketchup- 2 tbsp Salt- to taste

Method

1. Finely chop the onion, tomato, bell pepper, chillies, and cilantro and keep aside.

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2. This is the easy version of making chilly paneer, so you need atleast 3 sauces- soya sauce, chilli sauce, and spicy jalapeño sauce. Ketchup is optional. If you use tomatoes, you can avoid the ketchup. If you want it only mildly spicy, you can add both tomatoes and ketchup.

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3. Heat up oil. Add in onions. Fry till they are translucent. Add in chillies, bell peppers. Saute for 2 minutes and add the tomatoes. Next add in the cilantro. When the tomato gets all mushy, add in the sauces and saute till the mixture becomes dry. Chop up the paneer into smaller pieces and mix it into the mixture. Add salt. Simmer on fire for about 5 minutes and keep aside.

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4. Heat up the rotis on a hot griddle. Keep aside.

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5. For garnishing, chop up some onions and grate some parmesan or cheddar cheese. This is optional. You can also optional use chopped chilli pieces.

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6. Now to make the frankie. On a roti, spread the chilli paneer mixture in the middle. Garnish with onions and cheese. Roll it up from side to side. Cover it up in tissue or cellophane foil. Yummy frankies are now ready!

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Serve this hot with some piping hot Indian masala tea. Perfect for a cloudy and gloomy day!

A dinner for four

I love having people over to my house for food. I guess it is part of my Indian upbringing. A good part of my growing up years has seen my mom meticulously preparing meals for relatives, friends, guests who have been invited to be a part of the big Indian eating tradition. Even today at home, a meal is not complete unless it is a feast. Curries will be served piping hot, accompanied by a side of dry vegetables, rice and yogurt. You grow up having this notion of meal-hood :) Even after moving to LA, that part of me hasn't changed.

S and me had some guests over on friday, and I cooked up a meal for four in 2.5 hours. This is what the spread looked like.

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While you are busy admiring my pretty FabIndia curtains, let me give you a run down of the dinner spread (from L-R): Mango thokku pickle (red jar with yellow lid, bought from India Sweets and Spices, Glendale), masoor dal with tadka, kadai paneer, roasted brussel sprouts, baingan vindaloo, espinacas con garbanzo, a side of white rice, vegetable biriyani, and cucumber-dil raita (and some garlic naan and rotis, which I forgot to photograph). So, I made all these in 2.5 hours which obviously means I multitasked and hence forgot to take photographs while making each of the items. You obviously don't want to see my super messy kitchen too :) But, you probably want to make some or all of the items for dinner or lunch, hence, I will provide the recipe's below (apologies for the lack of photos, I promise I'll take some next time).

Recipe 1: Masoor dal tadka

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Dal is the easiest thing to make. But not necessarily the quickest thing to make. So start with the dal first.

Ingredients Serves 4

Masoor dal      1 cup (washed) Onion                 1 cup (sliced) Red chilli          2-3 Cumin seeds   1 tsp Potato               1 (peeled and cubed) Turmeric powder  2 tsp Asafoetida        a pinch Salt                      to taste Oil                        1 tbsp

In a pressure cooker (if you don't have one, you can use a saucepan), add the masoor dal, turmeric powder, potato, salt and add water (1: 1). If using pressure cooker, cook for three whistles. If using saucepan, cook for about ten mts. In a skillet, heat oil and add cumin seeds. Next, add the red chillis and onions. Saute for 3 minutes. Add hing. Take off fire and pour the contents into the cooked dal. Check for consistency, if the water is too much boil the dal for 5 minutes. Garnish with cilantro leaves. This can be served hot with rice or roti.

Recipe2: Kadai Paneer

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While the dal is getting cooked in the pressure cooker, you can start working on this yummy looking paneer dish. S loves anything made with paneer. So, I do experiment quite a bit with it. This one though is easy to make and the dish will be loved by your guests.

Ingredients

Paneer (Indian cottage cheese)   1 cup Capsicum                                               1 (cut into squares) Onion                                                       1 (cut into squares) Tomato                                                   3 (pureed) Ginger-garlic paste                            1 tbsp Fenugreek leaves dried                    2 tsp Turmeric powder                                1 tsp Coriander powder                               1 tsp Red chilli powder                                1 tsp Salt                                                            to taste Oil                                                              2 tbsp

Whole spices Cinnamon                                              1 inch stick (broken into smaller pieces) Cardamom                                            2 Cloves                                                     4 Dry red chillies                                   2 (broken into smaller pieces) Bay leaf                                                  2 (broken into smaller pieces) Cumin seeds                                        1 tsp

Method

1. Cut the paneer, capsicum (bell pepper), tomato and onion into squares. Puree the tomato in a blender. Keep aside. 2. Heat oil, add the whole spices and roast for 2 minutes. Add onions, ginger-garlic paste, and saute till the onions turn translucent. 3. Add the tomato puree, salt and let it boil for 2 minutes. 4. Add capsicum, red chilli powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder, a little water and let is boil. 5. Add the paneer, and the fenugreek leaves. 6. Let this cook for about 8 minutes and serve garnished with cilantro leaves.

Recipe 3: Vegetable biriyani

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This is a very easy side to make. A difference from the usual white rice accompaniment to Indian food, which I also served by the way.

Ingredients

White basmati rice                4 cups Peas                                             1/2 cup Carrot                                         1/2 cup Onions                                        1 Biriyani mix                             2 tbsp Salt                                               to taste Ghee                                            1.5 tbsp

Whole spices Bay leaf                                     2 Cardamom                               2 Cinnamon                                 1 inch stick Cloves                                        4 Black pepper                           4

Method

1. Soak the rice in water and little salt for at least an hour before cooking it. I soaked the rice first, before I started to make the dal. 2. In a pan, heat the ghee and fry the whole spices. Now add the onions and fry till translucent. 3. Add the peas and carrots and mix well. 4. Add the salt, and the biriyani mix. 5. Add in the rice, mix everything well. Add in water to cover the rice and let it boil. Once the rice is ready, serve hot.

Recipe 4: Roasted brussel sprouts

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S doesn't like brussell sprouts. But I love them. So, I'm always looking for interesting ways to make them yummy. Roasting them is by far my favorite way of devouring brussell sprouts.

Ingredients

Brussell sprouts                   1 cup Lemon juice                           2 tbsp Garlic                                        1 tsp (minced) Salt                                             a pinch Olive oil                                    1 tsp

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. 2. In a small bowl, mix the minced garlic with the lemon juice and salt. 3. Spread the brussell sprouts in a oven friendly baking dish and sprinkle the mix prepared. Coat the sprouts nicely. 4. Pour some olive oil on top of the sprouts. 5. Roast them in the preheated oven for about 25 minutes, turning them over at least once in between.

Recipe 5: Cucumber and dil raita

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Last but not the least, serve the food with a delicious raita. Cut some cucumbers, mash it with some dil and dunk it into yogurt, sprinkle in a little salt, whip it up and serve.

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And there you go, a simple Indian meal for four is ready. I also made two other dishes, eggplant vindaloo and garbanzo beans with spinach (also called espinacas con garbanzo) but those recipes will have to wait for another occasion! I also served a side of mango thokku pickle (bought from India sweets and spices, Glendale).

To finish it off, my guests dug into this Rava Kesari and a slice of this cheesecake.